Why shops need to connect with their customers

A toddler plays with toys.


Tiger founder Philip Bier says retailers need to refocus on customer experiences

The entrepreneur who brought the Danish retailer Tiger to the UK hopes to repeat that success with a French children’s chain.

Philip Bier is opening a branch of France’s ID Kids, which sells toys and clothes, in Wandsworth, south London.

He says stores need to connect with customers and that ID Kids stores would be about “experiences”.

The launch comes despite the collapse of Toys R Us and difficulties faced by other retailers including Mothercare.

Mr Bier opened the first UK branch of homeware and gadget retailer Tiger with his wife Emma in Basingstoke in 2005 and the chain now has 90 stores.

They had a half-share in the venture with its Danish parent company, Zebra Group.

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Last year Mr Bier sold his stake in Tiger, now known as Flying Tiger Copenhagen, to Zebra and has bought the UK franchise for ID Kids, which has 1,200 stores worldwide.

He said the store will feature a soft-play area, scooters and go-karts for children to use and a workshop area with free art classes.

Despite the problems facing the retail sector following the demise of Toys R Us and the problems facing Mothercare, Mr Bier argues that the sector is evolving.

Bier Brothers


Philip Bier brought Tiger to the UK

“I think that there’s plenty of space for retailers who provide products that are a fantastic value for money, but where the experience in the store is really fun and you want to go to it,” he told the BBC.

The retailers that have disappeared from the high street had all ceased to be “relevant”.

Rising competition from online shopping meant that retailers need to create an “emotional connection” with their customers, Mr Bier said.

That meant it was no longer “enough to open the doors and expect customers to come in. It might have been like that in the 1980s and 1990s, but it’s not enough nowadays”.

Single brand stores

“At retail conferences, nobody talks about customers,” he said. “Nobody talks about, are we relevant? The core of the business is who do you talk to.”

Retailers also needed to adapt to changing consumer demands, Mr Bier added as he forecast a shift away from department stores: “I think that retail will go more and more towards single brand shops.”

Flying Tiger Copenhagen


The original concept of the retailer was to offer good quality products at £1 or less

Mr Bier said that Tiger once received customer feedback from a child, who said if he had £1 in his pocket he would spend it there.

But even when the boy did not have any money to spend, he would still go into the store all the time just to look at the products and experience them, because the shop was such a fun place to be.

“Retailers need to understand that you have incredible competition from the web and overall you need to deliver an experience that is engaging, and if you don’t have that then you are dead.”